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Local welfare office closure slammed

Friday, 6th December, 2013 5:22pm

Story by Ann Casey
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Local welfare office closure slammed

Cllr Nick Killian who has condemned the decison to close Ashbourne's Community Welfare Office.

Local welfare office closure slammed

Cllr Nick Killian who has condemned the decison to close Ashbourne's Community Welfare Office.

The loss of Ashbourne’s Community Welfare Office has provoked a furious response in the area amid claims that the move hits the most vulnerable in society.
People depending on social welfare will now have to travel to Finglas to avail of the essential services provided by the office, which includes administration of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.
Residents of Ashbourne and Ratoath were recently informed that the service, which was provided on Tuesdays and Thursdays, will be moved to Finglas from 16th December.
The move has led to a war of words between Fianna Fail Cllr Nick Killian and Labour TD Dominic Hannigan following a call by Cllr Killian on the Labour TD to resign.
However, Deputy Hannigan said the government was trying to clean up the mess made by Cllr Killian and his colleagues in Fianna Fail.
The closure of the Ashbourne office was condemned as “an appalling act of state thuggery” by Cllr Killian.
He said it was an attack by Minister Burton on the disadvantaged and said users of the service were very angry at the decision.
“I am appalled that a community service operating for the needs of those who find themselves in greatest financial need for the past 40 years has, with the stroke of a pen, been closed under the excuse of rebalancing of resources,” said Cllr Killian.
He pointed out that Meath residents are now asked to travel into Finglas in Dublin to avail of this service. This will apply to those who are on the Meath County Council housing list and are seeking rent supplement.
“One user of the service asked me where he was going to get the €7 needed for the bus fare to go to Finglas. This is effectively a cut in his payment,” said Cllr Killian.
He called on Meath East’s three Government TDs to have the decision reversed before it even starts.
Deputy Hannigan has since met with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and said she has assured him that no-one will be at a loss and people needing social assistance will have access to a greater range of services by attending the Finglas Intreo office.
He also said people who are unable to travel due to illness or disability can contact the Community Welfare Service by phone and if necessary a member of staff may arrange to visit them at home.
Deputy Hannigan said in areas where Intreo offices have been operating they have dramatically cut waiting times for social welfare benefit applicants.
“The Finglas Intreo service is also a one stop shop service for job seekers that aims to provide customised support based on each person’s skills, experience and qualifications.
“People attending it will find it easier to access schemes such as Pathways to Work, Jobs Bridge internships, plus a range of education and training programmes to improve their skills,” he said.

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